The Democracy Commission was set up at the recent Socialist Workers Party (SWP) annual conference. It is made up of ten elected members and four members appointed by the SWP’s Central Committee. Its first meeting will be on Saturday 7 February.
Since the 1999 Seattle protests sparked a new wave of global resistance to capitalism, party members have thrown themselves into building the movements – particularly those against globalisation and war – as well as developing an alternative to New Labour.
However, concern has grown over the last few years that there has been a lack of proper debate and reflection about our activities. Many comrades feel that this has led to mistakes and unaccountability.
Hence the widespread view among members articulated at our recent conference that we need to restore a proper culture of debate within the party.
This will enable all comrades to discuss the party’s work and provide the basis for democratic decision making and accountability.
Just as importantly, it can provide the framework within which all members feel confident about taking up a leadership role in their sphere of work.
We must be able to properly assess events so we can decide how best to respond.
The fast-changing world situation makes it all the more pressing that comrades feel engaged in our discussion of how to respond – whether we face the Israeli assault on Gaza or the recent wave of unofficial strikes across Britain.
If everyone feels they have taken part in the discussion we can be confident that decisions, once taken, will be respected by all.
The commission’s purpose is to look at the “culture of debate”, the way we organise inside the SWP, and how we discuss and decide on our work. It will draft proposals to take to a special conference within the next three to six months.
At our first meeting the members of the commission will look at how to take that discussion to branches and districts in the next few weeks.
We also welcome submissions from individual members of the party. Please contact the SWP national office for submissions to the Democracy Commission.